July 06, 2021
Exceptional boat control is one of the primary factors that separates good days on the water from great ones. Locking the boat onto a single fixed position allows anglers to saturate the strike zone with baits, helping to convert more lookers into biters.
In olden days, boats were equipped with physical anchors to help pin the boat in place against the forces of nature, and thankfully, those times are behind us. In the modern, digital age of angling, we now enjoy access to satellite-based boat positioning from systems that are collectively referred to as GPS anchors.
A fully refined GPS anchor, like the Minn Kota Spot-Lock feature incorporated into current i-Pilot and i-Pilot Link systems, elevates boat positioning to the electronic age.
Spot-Lock works by comparing a satellite-based position input by the angler—generally by pressing a key on a hand-held remote, trolling-motor foot pedal or a networked fishfinder—to the boat’s actual location, measured by receiving signals from the overhead constellation of GPS satellites.
The system springs to life when the angler’s desired location and the boat’s current position do not match.
First, a sophisticated algorithm quickly determines the separation—both distance and direction—between the two positions, and then the "anchoring" system takes control of the trolling motor's steering and prop functions to pull the boat into the appropriate location.
This process repeats over and over again, with no additional input from the angler, to effectively lock the boat in place. Heavy anchor-and-chain combinations can’t hold a candle to the GPS system’s simplicity and precision.
GPS anchors represent the pinnacle of boat positioning under an incredibly diverse array of conditions. They tend to work best when the boat’s position is being influenced by a reasonably consistent force, like wind, waves or current.
Note, however, that because GPS anchoring systems are integrated into the boat’s bow-mounted trolling motor, their performance may be limited in very shallow water or heavy vegetation. Shallow-water, spike-type anchors can be more useful in those environments.
Nevertheless, for most anglers and fishing situations, a GPS anchoring system keeps a boat precisely positioned with nothing more than the push of a button.